First Listen

WXPN Radio

The premier guide for new and significant artists in rock, blues, and folk - including NPR-syndicated World Cafe

XPN2 - XPoNential Radio

24/7 Musical discovery. A unique mix of emerging and heritage blues, rock, world, folk, and alt-country artists.

World Cafe Archives

Join the World Cafe through performances and interviews with celebrated and emerging artists.

Enjoy previews of select, upcoming albums, in their entirety on FIRST LISTEN.

First Listen: Julianna Barwick, 'Nepenthe'

Julianna Barwick makes grand, gracefully sweeping choral music that's so swoonily lovely, it's far too easy to lose sight of the craft that went into making it. Barwick takes small vocal phrases and bits of instrumentation, samples them and loops them impeccably to create a sound that tentatively recalls the impossible lushness of Enya when it's not fanning out into sounds that can be experimental, spare, artful and alluring.
Reflecting influences ranging from Philip Glass to her roots in church, Barwick has assembled a string of lovely, imaginative, hypnotically enveloping albums — the latest of which, Nepenthe, surrounds countless fragments of her voice with subtle snatches of piano, strings and even, in "Pyrrhic," tiny effects that recall Sigur Ros. Like its predecessor, 2011's appropriately titled The Magic Place, Nepenthe (out August 20) isn't just accessibly, prettily head-filling and ethereal. It's downright medicinal, altering the listener's surroundings in ways that make them comfortable, yet still wondrously inviting.
Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit